By Frances Maguire Paist
To those for whom mobility is
limited, the ability to move around freely is a gift whose benefit
can only be truly understood once it has been taken away. Imagine
having to rely upon someone else for everything that you do – each
trip to the grocery store, each run by the dry cleaners, each foray
to the library or each errand to the pharmacy, doctor’s office or
your child’s school. And then imagine how marvelous it would be if
this opportunity, sometimes taken away so unexpectedly, could be
returned to you through the use of adaptive equipment added to your
car, van or truck.
Adaptive equipment is defined as
a wide range of appliances, materials and supplies that help those
with disabilities accomplish more activities of daily living and
become more functionally independent. Adaptive equipment added to
cars and vans help drivers and passengers get in and out of their
vehicles, use driving controls and store other mobility equipment.
Following is a partial list of
adaptive equipment often used in vehicles to help those with
disabilities soar to new levels:
• A Power Door Opener is a device that opens and closes a vehicle
door electronically via a remote switch.
• An Under the Vehicle Lift is a wheelchair lift stored under the
frame of the van. An Automatic Lift, not located under the vehicle,
permits the raising, lowering, stowing and deploying of the lift to
be handled remotely by a power source. A Semi-Automatic Lift allows
the raising and lowering of the platform to be handled
electronically, but the storage and deployment of the platform to
and from a horizontal position is handled manually.
• A Raised Fiberglass Roof is a separately installed after the
vehicle’s original roof has been removed. This permits increased
head room in the van.
• A Raised Door Opening permits additional door entry height for
vehicle entry and exit. The manufacturer’s original doors are
modified to add the extra height needed.
• A Center Lowered Floor, also called a Cargo Lowered Floor, means
that the floor in the rear passenger area of the vehicle has been
lowered. The manufacturer’s original floor is removed and lowered
from the rear of the driver/passenger seats to the front of the rear
• Transfer Bars or Handles assist an individual in movement or
• Five steering devices (Knob, Tri-Pin, “U” or “V”, Cuff and
Amputee) help people with specialized needs hold onto the steering
• Low and Zero Effort Steering is a steering system modification in
which the effort of steering the vehicle is reduced.
• Foot Steering permits the steering of the vehicle to be operated
by the driver’s foot.
• Horizontal Steering is the installation of a replacement steering
column that permits the steering wheel to be moved to a horizontal
• A Column Extension is a spacer that brings the steering system
closer to the driver.
• Manual Hand Controls allow the braking and acceleration systems to
be controlled manually by the driver’s hand instead of foot.
• Powered Gas and Brake Systems supplement driver force and motion
with vehicle power to control acceleration, speed and braking.
• Joystick Control is a system that allows operation of multiple
functions with a single lever.
• A Left Foot Accelerator is installed to the left of the brake
pedal and allows vehicle acceleration with the driver’s left foot.
• Low or Minimal Effort Braking is a modification that reduces the
• Manual Parking Brake Extension is a handle that allows the parking
brake to be set with the driver’s hand. The Electric Parking Brake
is a motor or actuator that sets and releases the parking brake
• A Power Seat Base is installed beneath the manufacturer’s seat and
permits the original seat to be moved in a combination of directions
as needed. A Removable Seat Base allows a factory seat to be removed
or repositioned while still maintaining equipment specifications.
• A Gear Shift Extension is a device that attaches to the original
gear selector and permits increased leverage.
• An Adapted Key Holder improves key grip and turning leverage.
• A Car Top Carrier is an integrated wheelchair lift and storage
compartment for a manual wheelchair. With this adaptation, the
wheelchair is lifted and stored on the roof of the car.
• Wheelchair Securement is a manual or electronic tie-down system
that holds the wheelchair steady in a moving vehicle.
• A Scooter Hoist or Lift facilitates the loading and unloading of a
scooter into a vehicle.
• GM’s Sit ‘N Lift Power Seat is a fully motorized, rotating lift
and lower passenger seat that makes vehicle entrance and exit much
The GM Mobility Reimbursement
Program reimburses customers up to $1,000 off of the cost of any
eligible aftermarket adaptive equipment. Making lives better for
those whose lives have been drastically altered is a calling well
worth pursuing. Adaptive equipment? Think of it as a driving force.